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Spacecraft

— Space

Planetary Resources finally deploys first spacecraft after explosive setback

The asteroid-mining industry has taken a step closer to becoming an actual thing, with the successful deployment of Planetary Resources' Arkyd 3 Reflight (A3R) spacecraft from the International Space Station Wednesday night. The A3R's three-month mission will be used to test and validate some basic technologies that the company hopes to incorporate in future spacecraft that will prospect near-Earth asteroids for potentially valuable resources.

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— Space Feature

State of the Game: Deep Space Exploration

New Horizons is making headlines today with its historic flyby of Pluto – and if that's caught your imagination, welcome to the tip of the iceberg! Deep space exploration represents some of humanity's most astonishing achievements, so we've decided to feature five active space missions that absolutely blow our minds. Meet the Mars Orbiter, New Horizons, Rosetta and the intrepid Voyager spacecraft in our second State of the Game video presentation.

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— Space

New Horizons is go for Pluto flyby

After over nine years of travel in deep space, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft is within hours of its historic flyby of Pluto. When the unmanned nuclear-powered probe speeds past the frozen dwarf planet tomorrow at 7:49 am EDT, it will mark not only the success of one of man's most ambitious space missions, but also the completion of the first era of planetary exploration that began in 1962 when the US Mariner 2 mission flew past Venus. Here's what to expect as events unfold. Read More
— Space

Dawn zooms in on white spots, finds pyramid-like mountain on Ceres

Fresh images snapped by NASA's Dawn spacecraft have provided a clearer look at the enigmatic white spots that mark the surface of the dwarf planet Ceres. The spots have baffled scientists who are unable to discern their nature or composition. To add to the intrigue the probe has spotted a solitary, unusual pyramid-like mountain jutting out of the otherwise relatively smooth surface.

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— Space

Scientists look at communicating with hypersonic vehicles using plasma resonance

Returning spacecraft hit the atmosphere at over five times the speed of sound, generating a sheath of superheated ionized plasma that blocks radio communications during the critical minutes of reentry. It's a problem that's vexed space agencies for decades, but researchers at China's Harbin Institute of Technology are developing a new method of piercing the plasma and maintaining communications.

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